Last week the World remembered what my late Father described to me as “the greatest act of Man’s inhumanity to his fellow Man that this World has ever seen”: the Holocaust.
Although I have long been fascinated by that period of history, it still seems so very difficult to comprehend that human beings were capable of such a thing. But they were capable of such a thing. They were. And they still are…
January 27th, 2022 marked the seventy-seventh Anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
It had been almost exactly twelve years earlier, on January 30th 1933 that Adolf Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany. In 1919 he had joined a tiny political group on the back streets of München, one of myriad such groups that arose in Germany during the aftermath of the Great War of 1914-1918. In less than a quarter of a century that group would stand on the verge of global domination, their menace would only be put down after some sixty-one nations had taken up arms against each other, over 55,000,000 human beings had died, and Mankind had been plunged to the almost unimaginable depths of wickedness we remembered last week.
It says something of those times that the Soviet Red Army, who had fought their way back from the gates of Moscow and the banks of the Volga, suffering appalling losses in an utterly brutal conflict (a third of all deaths in World War Two were Soviets), were themselves still horrified at what they found at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Never Again” the World exclaimed. But it has happened again. Not on the same scale, true. But in Cambodia, and Rwanda, the Balkans and elsewhere, it has happened again. In China’s repression of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group based in Xinjiang, which has prompted widespread international condemnation, it has happened again. And it can happen again, at any minute.
It can happen again because the evil which bore it never went away, and is rising once more. The people of the United States removed President Donald Trump; but over 77 million Americans still voted for him, he has a virtual stranglehold over the Republican Party, and his narrative continues to be very influential.
And in other parts of the World there is little evidence that humans have had some kind of Damascene conversion after learning the lessons of the past. Far from extinguishing hatred, racism and xenophobia, it is everywhere in our daily lives, and social media has provided a breeding ground more fertile than anything Joseph Goebbels could have dreamed of in his time. These media platforms have provided opportunities for small Fascist groups such as CasaPound Italia and Britain First to gain influence far greater than their size merits; and that influence can be seen in much bigger movements such as the campaigns that drove Brexit, and which underpin the current resurgence of antipathy towards refugees.
Citizen of the world
These are difficult days for a man like me. A bridge-builder living in a World of wall-builders. A Citizen of the World and a Member of the human race who is surrounded by flag wavers who seem determined to repeat the mistakes of the past. Perhaps the most important thing for us all to remember is that Adolf Hitler did not simply walk into the Reichstag eighty-nine years ago and take over a great nation. What happened in history was not destiny, it was made by humans, and it could have been prevented by humans.
So as we consider the rise to power of perhaps the most evil man in history, we must be more vigilant than ever against those who seek to divide Mankind with talk of flags, nations, sovereignty and immigrants. And look instead at an economic system which allows 28 billionaires to own more than the poorest half of Humanity. To look for ways to create a better, fairer world for everyone. Because every life is sacred. Every murder is a genocide. And we can only be human together…
“Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”